SOLAR ECLIPSE – A POTENTIAL SOURCE OF MASSIVE BLINDNESS


Dear Colleagues and fellow concerned citizens,

Hope this finds you all in good health.

As we get excited and warm up to view this once-in- a-life-time event let us be cognisant of the massive hazard that could befall our predominantly young population if the necessary precautions are not taken.

We surely wouldn’t want to mix the wealth this event is bringing to Uganda with the unhealthy and helpless estate it is likely to leave behind.

A lot of misleading information from relatively non- technical sources has been availed to the public which could result in more problems than desired.

Some useful information has been availed to the Ministry of health so that as the authority on health matters it will advise the nation.

Editing has been done of the message to give to the general population, however as the bureaucracies, protocol and procedures of the government offices still drag on, TIME HAS FLED FROM US.

It is therefore my desire to let you know (in case you hadn’t known) or to summarize for you some of the info you can use as a technical person to inform the public and measures you can take as a parent, teacher, mobilizer, organizer , leader and patriotic citizen.

We surely DO NOT NEED TO WITNESS AN EPIDEMIC OF MASSIVE BLINDNESS!!!

PEOPLE FROM ALLOVER THE COUNTRY WILL BE VIEWING THIS AND
MAY NOT BE TAKING THE PRECAUTIONS. ALL HAVE SIMILAR RISK AS THOSE IN PAKWACH

Find attached the general info and the editted message. references were left out but can be availed on request.

Yours truly

Dr Anne Ampaire Musika
Ophthalmologist and scholar of Clinical epidemiology and Biostatistics
Mulago National Referral Hospital
P.O.BOX 7051
Kampala
Tel 0772 424995

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ADVICE ON VIEWING THE SOLAR ECLIPSE

On 3rd Nov 2013 the world is going to witness one of the very rare eclipses- the Solar Eclipse. Uganda is one of the privileged countries that will witness the total and partial eclipse. As we warm up to enjoy this spectacular moment, the Ministry of Health would like to alert the public of the few likely dangers to health that come along with such viewing.

When a person looks at the sun without wearing a proper protection for the eyes, the radiation from the sun can cause serious damage leading to permanent blindness. The effect of the damage to the eye may be realised several hours later since there is no pain associated with this kind of damage to the eyes.

WHO IS AT RISK?

Everybody who will view the solar eclipse with naked eyes is at risk of damaging his/her eyes. Children and young adults aged below 20 years are at greater risk because the lens in their eyes is not able to filter most of the dangerous light.
WHEN IS IT SAFE TO VIEW THE ECLIPSE?
It is not advisable to view partial or total solar eclipse without proper protection for the eyes. The only time that the Sun can be viewed safely with the naked eye is during a very short period of time, about 2 minutes, when the Moon completely covers the Sun and one should immediately look away the moment the first rays of the sun begin to appear at the edge of the moon.
WHAT EQUIPMENT CAN FILTER THESE SUN RAYS?
The public is warned not to use the following items for viewing the solar eclipse because they do not offer adequate protection from the dangerous radiation that damages the eyes:
• colour film
• black-and-white film that contains no silver
• photographic negatives with images on them
• smoked glass
• sunglasses
• photographic neutral density filters
• Polarizing filters
• Binoculars and telescopes
Do not view the eclipse through a mirror or water in a basin because the sun rays will be directly reflected straight into the eye with the same intensity.
The safest devicesto use for protecting the eyes are solar viewers with aluminized polyester.
Though not entirely(100%) safe to use, the following locally available filters may be used to view the eclipse:
• Welders’ glasses
• pin-hole cameras
• negatives without imagesused as double layers
• pin holes (made by passing a pin through a hard paper or cardboard)
• black kaveera (polythene bag)
• compact discs
• floppy discs
Parents, Teachers and the general public are advised to closely supervise children and students and ensure they have some level of protection when viewing the solar eclipse to avoid permanent damage to their eyes
This message is from the Ministry of Health.

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